New drug regenerates damaged tissue


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Researchers are calling it a “vitamin for tissue stem cells.” And it has sparked the rapid regeneration of bone marrow, as well as liver and colon tissue damaged by disease or surgery.
 
Stem cells are the body’s basic building blocks, able to transform themselves into the specialized cells that make up any organ, muscle or body part.  
 
The drug, concocted by researchers at Case Western Reserve University and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, suppresses the action of a gene in the body that hampers the creation of stem cells. When the gene’s action is curbed, stem cells can proliferate and more quickly rebuild not only damaged body parts, but also the components needed to make them.
 
The new drug’s most dramatic demonstration came when mice were dosed with lethal levels of nuclear radiation, which killed their bone marrow. They then were given bone-marrow transplants. The mice receiving the drug survived; those that didn’t died. Mice that had two-thirds of their livers removed surgically regenerated the organs twice as fast when they were given the new drug.  
 
The scientists hope to begin human clinical trials before 2019.
 
TRENDPOST: Regenerating tissue faster means quicker, fuller recovery from accidents and surgery. Using the body’s own stem cells to regenerate tissue also would cut the use of synthetic medicines, many of which are expensive and can have damaging side effects. This advance brings us closer to a future in which the body will replace its own amputated limbs or cancerous lungs.

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